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What my musings are all about...

Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.

The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.

The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Black Monday

Five NFL coaches fired, one, Rob Chudzinski, after only one year to prove himself. Hummmm, wonder how bad he could have been. As I don't consider myself knowledgeable enough about pro football, I can't say whether these firings were justified. Coaches in the pros and in the college pros take jobs knowing that they are in the hot seat from day one. The HOT SEAT has been constructed for them by impatient owners, and in the case of universities, impatient alums.

I wonder to what extent the players on teams have to do with a coach being fired? Let's look at an analogy and see if it fits. In the 25 years I was a high school teacher, I recognized that many students refused to learn, citing a teacher being too boring, too complicated, too demanding, too strict. But never once, in my experience did students look beyond these admittedly unappealing traits and ask if these same teachers knew their subject matter. It seemed to me it was always on the teachers to find a way to impart knowledge and never on the studentss to make the effort to absorb knowledge. Did the students REALLY try?

How many coaches know their stuff, but don't have players willing to put out the effort to understand what the coaches are asking of them? I'm guessing that of the five fired coaches all of them have good football minds and a couple of them have great football minds. Did the players REALLY try?

Many years back when I was coaching the Carolina Cougars in the ABA, my assistant came up to me one day and said, "Coach, I believe the player's ears are getting small." Players with small ears don't win games and coaches with players with small ears get fired. I quit after my first year because I was an insanely bad coach, but I also had players with ears the size of a breath mints.

Speaking of fired coaches, will somebody please tell me why George Carl and Lionel Hollins are not coaching in the NBA? I can think of at least five NBA teams that would have much better records if either of these two fine coaches were at the helm.

I suspect I'll get a number of comments reminding me of how important motivation is. Motivation, give me a break! Is it important for a coach and teacher to hype players and students? Of course, no doubt, but teaching and coaching are not dog and pony shows. I remember back to my years with the Warriors to my two coaches: Alex Hannum was charismatic and too demanding but knew his stuff; Bill Sharman was boring and too strict but knew his stuff. We played hard for both coaches.

Speaking of demanding, strict, often mean coaches, my Lowell High School basketball coach, Ben Neff gave his players hell. Those of us who could put up with his intensity learned to play the game. Ben wouldn't have lasted ten seconds in today's game, but boy, oh boy, did he know his stuff.

Here's a poem I wrote for him:

Ben Neff

Coach, I loved you. I owe my fundamentals 
to you. I do not hold it against you
that you called me a sonovabitch and
that you questioned what I was good for
and that your anger wound up as spit on my face.
Those of us who could withstand your anger
learned how to play the game of basketball
so well that we carried it with us into college
and me into the pros. But I remember a boy
trying out for the team you frightened badly
who ran and you chased him and he swung
up into the standard and sat like a bird
perched above the hoop crying while you
threw basketballs at him, one after the other,
and the rest of us, thinking it was funny,
fed you the balls, throwing nice crisp
two-handed chest passes just the way
you taught us, fingers straight, thumbs down.







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